The future is now

As we speed off into the next decade, we are in the grips of exciting health and medical breakthroughs. Here’s what you need to know about the cutting edge work that is going on in the healthcare field right now.

Robo-health
Forget the idea that South Africa is lagging behind in technology. The Urology Hospital is Pretoria was the first South African institution to obtain the Da Vinci Surgery Robotic System – which makes complex surgery smooth, seamless and more cost-effective. This robotic technology is being used in major medical centres all over the world, providing advanced technology for better minimally invasive surgery.

Up close and personal
Thanks to top minds in the field, it’s possible to study lesions up close and personal. The technology was designed by the Digestive Diseases Centre (DDC) of UCT Private Academic. It’s called the SpyGlass DS Direct Visualisation System and it assists in the diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering from a range of digestive health disorders.

Testing, testing
Wellness Genetic Testing is one of the innovations taking the local nutritional and lifestyle field by storm. Combined with lifestyle and nutritional assessments, genetic screening makes it possible to accurately identify risk factors, and assess the level of risk (high or low) for chronic diseases in an individual. These results can then go a long way in providing effective intervention in terms of nutrition and lifestyle.

Headache be gone!
If you’ve been suffering for years from migraines, cluster headaches and other head pain, help is at hand. In California, a technology under current clinical investigation at Autonomic Technologies is a patient-powered tool for blocking signals associated with headaches. A small nerve-stimulating device is implanted permanently into the part of your head normally affected by headaches. When you sense a headache coming on, you place a hand-held remote control on your cheek, closest to the nearest implant in your head, in order to block the pain transmitters.

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Pump up your heart
Open-heart surgery is not for the fainthearted. If you cannot handle the ordeal of having a heart operation when you need a new valve, there is an alternative. The Sapien transcatheter aortic valve, created in California, is created with bovine tissue, attached to a stainless-steel stent. It is expanded by inflating a small balloon, when it is correctly placed in the valve space. The Sapien valve is placed through the femoral artery by catheter (a flexible tube inserted in your body) from a small slit near your rib cage or groin. It is currently only available to frail patients.

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